after Pisaro2 after Badiou3

  1. The only workable name for the musical4 truth procedure that begins with Elvis Presley, and continues through the Beatles, the Sex Pistols, et al.5, is “punk rock.”
  2. Punk rock, like every truth, is (a) singular6, (b) open to all7, (c) without being8, (d) proceeded upon9 by subtraction10, (e) giving of the impossibility of totality11, and (f) disordering of the Police12.
  3. Punk rock, like every truth, is the void13 of a particular, immanent, situation. This situation is presently Global Capitalism14.
  4. Punk rock, like every truth, is anarchist15 in this sense: it gives itself as a disordering of the Police.
  5. Emphasizing the difference16 between moments of a truth procedure, rather than the singularity they proceed upon, which is their truth, is a type of Policing.
  6. Punk rock has often been flamboyant, however, not the smallest shred of musical truth has ever been wrested by17 hopping around in a band uniform with epaulets.
  7. Proceeding upon punk rock by subtraction means over-concentrating (a) this situation’s particulars18, (b) the materiality of these particulars19, and (c) under-concentrating (subtracting) the differences amongst these particulars by the singularity so proceeded upon20.
  8. While finally irreducible to any particular, punk rock has something to do with youth21. (Although, it has nothing to do with childishness)22.
  9. Representation by the Police usually speaks to a moment’s untruth. This means: to the extent that a work is, e.g., played on the radio, discussed in magazines, sold in stores, etc., it is probably not punk rock23.
  10. Like the subject of any musical truth, the subject of punk rock is fascistically anti-fascist, not as the “tolerant” who would hypocritically hide their intolerance, i.e., their intolerance of intolerance. The punk rocker, through their moment, absolutely embraces the absolute denial of any absolute as creativity, and so defeats the nihilist, the ironist, and/or the cynic, who do not embrace this, but rather concile themselves to the dominance of evil in the world.
  11. There is no scale for the ranking of a work; its self-identity mocks the dimension of “more or less”24.


1 (Hereafter TPR).

2 Michael Pisaro’s “Eleven Theses on the State of New Music, (after Alain Badiou),” 2004, 2006, (hereafter PNM).

3 Alain Badiou’s “15 Theses on Contemporary Art,” 2003, (hereafter BCA).

4 Punk rock, insofar as it is considered here, is a musical truth, i.e., a truth of the singular way of listening we call “music.” As such, it is, e.g., neither a truth of politics, or science; nor is it a truth of poetry, or some other art.

5 Subjects to this musical truth include: Madonna, Bob Dylan, Cabaret Voltaire, The Rolling Stones, Nirvana, Johnny Cash, Tangerine Dream, James Brown, The Pink Floyd, The Supremes, Amon Düül II, Bob Marley, Burzum, Mahmud Ahmed, The Bee Gees, Technotronic, Grateful Dead, Duran Duran, The Beach Boys, Hall and Oates, Bon Jovi, Panda Bear, Govinda, Harry Merry, The Human League, Black Flag, Merle Haggard, Ariel Pink, Metallica, R. Stevie Moore, etc. It includes moments, not only from record albums, but also from television programs and commercials, video games, unrecorded performances, jingles, “the head,” etc.

6 i.e., a singularity, absolutely singular from every other musical truth, including: the musical truth of Cage and the New York School; the musical truth of Akan and Ga; the musical truth of Schoenberg and the Second Viennese School; the musical truth of Jazz; the musical truth of Haydn and Neo-Classicism; the musical truth of Hindustani; the musical truth of Bach and the Baroque; etc.

7 “Open to all” does not mean welcoming, it means universal in address. A situated experience of punk rock is always traumatic, in the sense psychoanalysis gives this word (cf., BCA: 2, 11; PNM: 4).

8 “Without being” is not non-being, but rather that which is inappropriable by the totality of being/non-being. This is something like hatred without object. That is, an impossibility, a promise withheld; neither hatred of everything (for thus everything would be an object), nor hatred of nothing (for punk rock is itself a kind of nothing), but rather hatred of the excrescent consistency of objects (cf., BCA: 1, 3, 5, 10, 13; PNM: 1).

9 …neither by fusion (combining one musical truth with another, e.g., the truth of punk rock with the truth of Cage and The New York School; the truth of jazz with the truth of punk rock, etc.); nor by “false repetition,” in the sense that Deleuze gives this phrase, (repeating what was proceeded upon by a previous work), but rather only by…

10 (cf., BCA: 1, 5, 8).

11 Contrary to what many maintain, we are not one, we are multiple. Punk rock, like every truth, gives finitude, first, in the work as an infinite convergence, the inability to achieve total immanence in the work, and second, in the work’s singularity. Here, firstly, the work is the impossibility of total immanence, that is, total immanence by total communication; it therefore has at its core the trembling edges of finitude, it thus opens and gives an always other than me. Secondly, the work is the interruption of every general and every particular, in constellation with similar interruptions (cf., J-L Nancy’s “Community of Literature”).

12 Punk rock never gathers together, but rather tears apart. This is why the entirety of punk rock is summarized by Body Count’s lyric “cop killer” (cf., BCA: 9, 10, 13, 14, 15).

13 (cf., TPR: 2c)

14 This does not mean that the truth of punk rock arises only in this situation, but rather that this temporary situation is where the eternal truth of punk rock presently finds itself. The situation of Global Capitalism, as we know, is the ultimate and supreme triumph of universal equivalence.

15 (cf., TPR: 2f)

16 e.g., style, genre, affect, subjective inclination-towards, subjective impression-of, cultural significance, conditions of production, economic significance, formal details, etc.

17 …wearing makeup, packaging a record album, the mise-en-scène of a music video …

18 e.g., commodity form, universal equivalence, advertising, identities, catharsis, standardization, “difference,” melodrama, currency, the imperative to enjoy, surface, unthinking clamor and bombardment, spectacle, effortlessness, entertainment, etc.

19 i.e., their materiality, e.g., the means of production, material removed from exchange, etc.

20 The “over” and the “under” at question here are both infinite, in the sense Levinas gives this term, i.e., infinitely inappropriable, infinitely beyond the totality they exceed (cf., TPR: 5).

21 “Youth,” as understood in this situation—a demographic; a market, aprx. 13-30 years old.

22 The subject of punk rock never “sings” like a baby. Punk rock is not a mobile for dazzling babies to sleep.

23 There are rare instances where the Police (played on National Public Radio, discussed on Pitchfork, sold at Starbucks, etc.) close round a truth so as to put it to work, this is proliferation of representation as a means of foreclosing singularity, Foucault’s “reversal of the political axis of individuation.” We see this, e.g., with young Elvis, with Beatlemania, with the endless articles and interviews about Nirvana, etc. More often, however, proliferation is merely an end in itself, closing round only itself as pure excrescence (the untruth most often played on National Public Radio, discussed on Pitchfork, sold at Starbucks, etc.). As a general rule, we might say the extent to which a work lends itself to being appropriated by such things, is the extent to which it is not punk rock. It is unlikely, for example, that the Police will ever play, discuss, or sell GG Allin, except maybe ironically, or in some other way that forecloses the truth to which he is a subject. The baby music mentioned above, however, provides a nice bumper between stock reports and current events, friendly background music while shopping, etc.

24 (cf., Adorno “Aesthetic Theory” p.188)


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